Sunday, September 09, 2007

SF Chronicle: Linebacker covers lots of ground

Here is the link.


The public-address announcer claimed that Cal linebacker Anthony Felder made the tackle on teammate Jahvid Best's 23-yard, second-quarter kick return Saturday.  You'll have to forgive the PA man. He was in the habit of calling Felder's name, because the junior was all over the field in the Bears' 34-28 win against Colorado State. Felder had two sacks and forced a fumble. Maybe more crucial, he had 11 of his 13 tackles in the first half as he waited for his teammates to up their intensity in the second half. "He played hard," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "He was getting up slowly a couple of times, but he really gutted it out and made some plays. He led a group that really stepped it up in the second half." Felder, who was a freshman All-American, lost his starting job last season as he struggled with a yearlong nerve issue in his calf. At the time, he chose not to use the injury as an excuse, and again he eschewed the tweaked knee he endured against Colorado State.

"It was just a scare, but I stayed in there and did my job," he said. "The coaches just put me in positions to make plays."  The most significant play might have been a blind-side sack on Colorado State quarterback Caleb Hanie in the third quarter. Felder came unblocked off the left edge and put a punishing hit on Hanie, jarring loose the ball for defensive lineman Tad Smith to recover.

Welcome back: Tedford predicted that redshirt freshman defensive tackle Derrick Hill would play for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, but he couldn't have predicted this.  Hill intercepted a pass in the end zone. He was a highly touted run-stopper/pass-rusher out of McClymonds High-Oakland, but 6-foot-3, 289-pounders aren't really known for their hands.  Of course, nothing has gone as planned for Hill in his young career. He played three games as a true freshman before a knee injury ended his year, and he was expected to challenge for a starting job this season but was publicly chastised by Tedford for a lack of conditioning.  "It recharged my batteries and it gave me a new look at football," Hill said. "I've learned to look at it as an opportunity, not just something I have the choice to do. It allows me to show my talents."

Briefly: Receiver Robert Jordan (kidney) played only two series, and Tedford said he would be evaluated further. ... Tailback Justin Forsett (back stinger) downplayed his injury, but it kept him on the sideline for the fourth quarter. ... Saturday's captains were safety Thomas DeCoud, guard Brian De La Puente, tight end Craig Stevens and linebacker Worrell Williams.


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